Quebec man charged in Baton Rouge with offering to sell more than 500k stolen gift card numbers over the internet
Published 11:22 am Tuesday, May 17, 2022
A federal grand jury recently returned a six-count indictment charging Richard Verret, age 40, of Quebec, Canada, with unauthorized solicitation of access devices and trafficking counterfeit access devices, the result of a multi-year investigation into Verret’s online criminal activity.
The indictment was filed under seal in Baton Rouge on March 22, 2022. On April 7, 2022, Verret was arrested at the Orlando International Airport after arriving in the United States from Canada. On April 8, 2022, Verret made his initial appearance in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, where the court ordered him to remain in federal custody pending his appearance in the Middle District of Louisiana. On May 16, 2022, Verret made his first appearance in this district, where he remains in custody.
According to the indictment, Verret, also known as “Luxury187,” “Miami24k,” and other screen names, operated and controlled several websites, such as the “Lux Giftcards Shop” and “Miami’s Gift Card Shop,” through which he advertised the sale of gift cards for major restaurant chains, grocery stores, entertainment venues, and other retail business chains (collectively, the “businesses”). Many of the businesses whose gift cards were advertised on Verret’s websites had locations across Louisiana.
The indictment further alleges that Verret would obtain, by fraudulent methods and theft, large quantities of valid gift card account numbers. Because the account numbers could be loaded into mobile applications and scanned at store registers, used for online purchases, and/or re-programmed onto blank access devices, Verret and others could access the account balances and spend the funds without ever having actual, physical possession of the original, legitimate gift cards. Using various methods to conceal his identity and avoid detection, Verret would sell the account numbers over the internet, offering the numbers for sale at steep discounts. As the indictment alleges, Verret’s websites advertised that they offered gift cards to hundreds of different businesses and that the sites were adding more gift cards “every week.” As of late February 2022, one of the websites offered more than 550,000 gift cards to more than 500 different businesses. The total stored value of all of the fraudulently obtained accounts offered for sale was more than $22 million.
In connection with this case, the United States has seized two of the domain names used by Verret in furtherance of his criminal activity, “www.miami24k.com” and www.miami.gift. Federal law enforcement officials recently served the domain registrars with federal seizure warrants directing the registrars to lock the domain names, and to display a banner notification that the domains have been temporarily seized, pending further proceedings.
This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, and the investigation has received substantial assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Quebec Police Department. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alan A. Stevens, who also serves as Senior Litigation Counsel, and Brad Casey.
*NOTE: An indictment is an accusation by a grand jury. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea.